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Disclaimer:  The message you read here is just a guideline to the actual sermon.  If you would like to hear the actual sermon, visit the church on Sunday mornings at 10:45.  Thank you.

July 15, 2007

The Wilderness

Part 2

Bread of Heaven


Deuteronomy 8:1-6 “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swear unto your fathers.

“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

“Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

“Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

“Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.”


Last week I began a series on “The Wilderness” titled “To Be Remembered.” If we go through the wilderness in our lives what is it that we should remember? The most important is that God is always there with us through a wilderness experience. Hosea reminds us of this in Chapter 13 verse 5:


“I cared for you in the desert,

in the land of burning heat.”


So what happens during this time? What are we to learn and why do we have wilderness experiences. Moses gives us three reasons for this experience:

  • To humble you
  • To test you
  • To know your heart


If we ask the question, “Why,” Moses would answer, “It is to see, ‘whether you would keep his commandments, or no.’” Are we going to be faithful to God?


Today let’s focus in on another part of our Scripture. It is found in part of verse three: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only.”


Perhaps you would think that a wilderness experience only comes to the rebel rouser or the trouble maker. But not so – the wilderness experience comes to those who God sees needs a change or challenge or perhaps a push in the right direction.


You all know what a growth spurt is if you have kids. You buy jeans that go below the shoes and hope that they won’t wear them off before they are warren out only to find that a few weeks later the cuff ends at the shoe top and several weeks after that the ankle.


The wilderness experience can be like a growth spurt. It brings us a lot further towards God – quickly.


When I say the word ‘wilderness,’ perhaps you think of a place that is wild or uncivilized or uninhabited. The Bible speaks about four different things when it talks about the wilderness.


One is the word desert: a dry and barren wasteland.

Another is a forest: a large thick grove of trees.

Also the word pasture: an uninhabited place for herding animals.

Another is a place of spiritual renewal. We find references to people like Hagar, Moses, Elijah and even Jesus who went into the wilderness. So don’t think that you are exempt from the wilderness experience.


We talked about the word humble last week. It is repeated several times in these verses and it begins the verse we are focusing on today. “He humbled you!” Sometimes it takes a lot to get us down on our knees.


Moses found himself in the wilderness with a whole nation depending on him and he had no plan. But he knew that God had a plan and he trusted God. In the story in Exodus 16 all the people complained that they should have stayed in Egypt where they had all the food they wanted. Going through the wilderness will make you wonder if you shouldn’t have stayed back where you were.


It was great in Egypt they said. We ate leeks, onions and pomegranates. We were salves and oppressed but we liked it there better than here. What happens in the wilderness is that it takes some hard work and faith in God to get out of the wilderness. The answer is not how much we can do for ourselves but how much we will let God do for us.


James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” We must first get ourselves out of the way to put God in the way. When we become insignificant He becomes the focus. Instead of me, me, me, it’s all about Him.


However God doesn’t just leave us there in the wilderness lost and hungry. He begins to lift us up. We are nothing in our selves but we become everything in Christ Jesus. While we read this story about the exodus from Egypt and marvel at all of the miracles God did to meet their physical needs there was something more important that God wanted to do for his people. It had not so much to do with physical needs – but rather it was spiritual.


The wilderness experience may seem like a physical thing but it is really God teaching us a spiritual lesson. It is not so much a physical spurt but spiritual growth. When Jesus taught he used parables and in much the same way God uses the physical to get our attention to the spiritual. First God allowed the people to get hungry perhaps they were even starving. So that through their complaints He could begin to work a miracle that would not only provide the physical food in the manna they would receive but also heavenly or spiritual food a well.


We read the labels on the boxes and wrappers in the store trying to buy the best available for our health and then go to Burger King for a Monster Burger for all of our trouble. When God provides food for the soul you don’t have to worry about its nutritional value. It will have everything that you need. No vitamin supplement will be needed.


When someone came to Jesus for physical healing He was more concerned about the soul then the body. It is only after you are changed inside that you can completely enjoy the healing outside. When the emptiness is gone inside then the fullness of the physical can be appreciated on the outside.


Moses continues and gives us some insight on the provisions of heaven. We are a lot like Thomas. If we can’t see it we won’t believe God can do it. Moses said that not only did God feed them, but it was with food from heaven that they didn’t know He had and neither did their father. It was a secret. There is much about God that will never be revealed to us.


Both Matthew and Luke record Jesus as quoting, “Man does not live by bread alone,” because Jesus went on to say that He was the “bread of life.” Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days and found more ten enough to sustain him there and also defeat the Devil on the way back. He learned from his experience.


The proverb says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)


Going through the wilderness may mean that you have nothing with you in the wilderness, just yourself. Isaiah said that we didn’t need anything we just come as we are. We present our selves to God as we are and stand at his mercy and in his grace. For what do you suppose that we could bring with us that would help God get us through our time of difficulty? Isaiah said:   


“Come, all you who are thirsty,

come to the waters;

and you who have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money

and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

Isaiah 55:1-2